The Best Solution for Cleaning a Greasy Kitchen Ceiling

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Grease splatters make your kitchen look untidy.
Image Credit: The Good Brigade/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Housecleaning can feel like a never-ending task, and it's easy to neglect messes that aren't clamoring for your attention, like a grease stain on the ceiling above the stove. Unless you happen to look up while waiting for water to boil or for meat to defrost, the kitchen ceiling is all too often out of sight and out of mind, but kitchens are a breeding ground for odors, smoke, humidity and bacteria, all of which can accumulate on the ceiling just like the stove top and counters.

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Grease Stain on the Ceiling Above the Stove

If you look up and see a grease stain on your ceiling above the stove, it's probably time to roll up your sleeves and do some cleaning. When you cook, you're probably used to cleaning up grease splatters that accumulate on the stove top and counters, but those same splatters can reach the ceiling, where you may not see them promptly. The ceiling can also incur damage from the smoke that rises from the stove and oven as well as from the humidity that's common in kitchens.

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One reason we don't clean our ceilings as often as other surfaces is because it's a bigger logistical challenge. Ceiling paint can be more susceptible to stains than other types of paint, and the paint can be easily damaged by water or vigorous scrubbing. Whatever cleaner you're using, you should start by cleaning a small spot on the ceiling and checking to see if there's any damage. If not, you can proceed with a full cleaning.

Best Types of Cleaning Products

In addition to the risk of water damage, liquid cleaning solutions can drip down from the ceiling as you're working. To avoid this, clean one small spot of the ceiling at a time rather than trying to cover the whole surface in cleaner in one go. If your cleaning results in excessive drips, reduce the amount of water you're using or put down tarps to protect your kitchen surfaces. The last thing you want is for grease and grime to drip down onto clean surfaces in your kitchen.

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If you're able to reach the ceiling while standing on a chair, use a rag or sponge to wipe down each section of the ceiling. A less labor-intensive solution is to use a sponge mop. To minimize dripping, be sure to wring out the mop head as thoroughly as possible before cleaning the ceiling. Start with a clean mop head so that you don't transfer other household grime onto the ceiling. If you don't have a sponge mop, attach a microfiber cloth to your mop with a rubber band as an alternative.

What Cleaning Solution Should You Use?

Ceiling paint can be sensitive, and ceiling tiles are susceptible to water damage. A multipurpose kitchen cleaner will typically be fine but check it in an inconspicuous spot before using it on the rest of the ceiling.

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If you want to make your own cleaner, mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or ammonia with 1 quart of warm water. An even simpler mixture is warm water and a few squirts of dishwashing soap, which is designed to gently remove grease from delicate surfaces, like a ceiling that might not have many coats of glossy paint.

You can also spritz the ceiling with lemon juice, letting it sit for a few minutes and then wiping it down gently with a microfiber cloth. If necessary, you can then add salt to remove tougher stains by scouring. If grease stains persist after cleaning, you may end up needing to repaint the ceiling. If so, be sure to start with a primer that's also a sealant, like Kilz, to ensure that the surface won't be harmed by future humidity or grease.

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